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My Visit to the Martial Arts Academy of Billings: Part II

When the opportunity presents its self you take advantage of the situation. I did just that. My son moved out to Billings, Montana for his job. My wife and I made plans to spend two weeks visiting our son and his family. Once we decided on our time frame I did some research looking for a Judo dojo in the area?

I read the May Issue of “Growing Judo” and Sensei Deb Fergus’ article about visiting Martial Arts Academy of Billings in Billing, Montana. I emailed Dave Allen for permission to practice when I was in town. There was a quick response welcoming me to the area and times of practice.

Once in town I found the dojo which was only 15 minutes from our hotel and my son’s house. Classes started at 5:30 pm for youth, 6:30 pm for juniors and 7:30 pm for seniors. What was unique about the dojo was that Judo and Karate (I use the word karate in the generic form) practices were at the same time in the same room on different mats, tatami forJjudo on one side and puzzle mats for Karate on the other side. Sensei Allen informed me that is was a good test of concentration. I do have to say I was so engross with my Judo that I forgot about the karate students. Occasionally I had to look over to see what they were doing.

As guest coach and working with the youth I had them do small contact drills. The students had to maintain contact with their uki. Keeping or maintaining control was the point of this drill.

When the junior class started at 6:30 pm my grandson arrived with mom and dad. Wyatt spent the hour riding the rail with interest and excitement to jump right in. I told Wyatt just like I tell other parents and excited youth, come watch a few more times then make the decision.

At 7:30 pm the seniors arrived and so did Sensei Dr. Martin Bregman. Sensei Bregman gave a short talk about some of the new rules and his interpretation of them. Then he demonstrated a few hold downs and talked about basic Judo. Example, doing Kesa gatame verses some fancy roll over into a nifty hold down where your uki could cripple your technique because of all the things you had to do to get it. The same thing applies with throwing techniques. Having just 3 -4 techniques for 2-4 directions should cover your arsenal. Most important comment was learning them both left and right. I would say 90% of judokas are right handed. Find a lefty and train with them as well.

Class was done at 9:00 pm and I had forgotten about the karate people. We all lined up to bow out. I was impressed, karate students, judo students and instructors bowed in and out together.

I am ready to go back to my hotel and Sensei Bregman said he was going to test Sensei Dave Allen for his Yodan. I assisted Sensei Bregman in testing Sensei Allen. During the final stages of the test Sensei Allen had to explain and demonstrate Ippon seoi nage. There was some hesitation, probably from being unsure of what we were looking to see. I suggested using knowledge of Nage No Kata and break it down into the three elements of a throw. Kata can be the instructors teaching aid when you draw a blank. Sensei Dave passed his test.

By the time everything was done and dressed it was 11:30 pm. Six hours of Judo was quite an experience in Billing, MT.

Before I left, 2 flutes found new homes. A bamboo flute was given to the Martial Arts Academy of Billings and one to Sensei Dr. Martin Bregman. Dr. Bregman questioned the origin of the flute and where it came from. I assured him it was from Wisconsin and the only thing he had to watch was not to play it in the shower.

To all judokas, anytime you go outside your area of judo research your destination and ask permission to practice judo if you find one.


Senior participants with Dr. Martin Bregman


Demonstrating a roll over breakdown


Demonstrating foot placement for arm bar.


Judo and karate practice taking place at the same time.

Tom Gustin
Stevens Point Judo Club
Stevens Point, WI
August 22, 2014